Jan. 18, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - This weekend's trip to Southern California will present a bit of additional meaning for Santa Clara University men's basketball senior Travis Niesen.
Not only are the Broncos scheduled to play two important conference games at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, the trip will serve as the final time he will play near his hometown of Mission Viejo, Calif.
The Broncos take their 8-7 overall record and 1-2 West Coast Conference mark to Gersten Pavilion for a 7 p.m. tipoff Saturday night against the second-place LMU Lions (6-12, 3-1 in the WCC). Live coverage of the game will be provided on the radio in the Bay Area on KNTS-AM (1220) and on the Internet via Broncos All-Access. In addition, a live CSTV Gametracker will be available on SantaClaraBroncos.com.
Following Saturday's game, the Broncos will remain in Los Angeles to play a Monday night contest in Malibu against Pepperdine (5-11, 1-3).
Santa Clara will be looking to regain the form that led the Broncos to three wins in their final four non-conference games, including a 77-68 victory over highly-rated Bucknell in the championship game of the 39th Cable Car Classic.
After opening league play with an 87-77 victory over Portland, Santa Clara dropped a hard-fought 81-68 Big Monday contest to sixth-ranked Gonzaga in front of a sold-out Leavey Center and national ESPN2 television audience.
Last weekend, the Broncos jumped out to a 13-point first half lead at San Diego. However, a poor shooting second half led to a disappointing 75-69 defeat to the Toreros.
Niesen leads the Broncos in scoring with a 19.7 per game average, which ranks second in the WCC behind the nation's leading scorer - Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. Mitch Henke and Brody Angley are also scoring in double-figures with per-game averages of 10.2 and 10.0, respectively.
As a team, Santa Clara is scoring at a 69.9 per game clip while holding opponents to 66.1 points per game. The Broncos are the WCC's leading rebounding team with an average of 39.1 per game and are second in free throw percentage at .744.
Loyola Marymount enters Saturday's game with a 6-12 overall record but has won three of its last four games, all in league play. The Lions lost five-straight to conclude its non-conference schedule before defeating San Diego, San Francisco and Portland. In its last outing on Monday night, LMU dropped an exciting 92-80 decision at sixth-ranked Gonzaga.
Four Lions average double figures in scoring, led by Matthew Knight's 16.4 points per game. Guard Wes Wardrop, who dropped a career-best 31 points and went 10-for-16 from the field and 5-for-8 from the three-point line against the Bulldogs, is averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 4.2 assists per game.
San Jose, Calif. native Brandon Worthy is scoring 11.9 points per game and adds 4.1 assists per outing.
Santa Clara has won three of the last four meetings against Loyola Marymount and 12 of the last 15. The two teams, however, have split the last six head-to-head contests with three wins each. Santa Clara swept the two games last year, winning 68-57 in Los Angeles and 78-70 at the Leavey Center.